TEMPE - It’s a baseball storyline that has played out hundreds of times over, one Mountain Pointe came to regret.
The Pride let a three-run lead escape in a 6-3 loss Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium as No. 2 Tucson continued its magical season, but the six-run sixth inning wasn’t the downfall for 14th-seeded Mountain Pointe.
The Pride offense was given several free base runners as the Badger pitchers walked eight batters and only one managed to score to have an eight-game winning streak end.
The Mountain Pointe offense continually popped up and or took awkward swings with runners in scoring position to keep giving the Badgers hope.
“I thought our (at-bats) were horrible,” Pride coach Brandon Buck said. “We have to have much better approaches and that’s as bad as we looked offensively.”
The first two innings told the story as the Pride were issued two walks with two out in the first, but couldn’t convert off starter Trevelle Hill, who then walked to the first two batters of the second inning before being pulled by Tucson coach Oscar Romero.
Reliever Michael Teran, the team’s closer, came in and induced a pop-up to short, a pop foul to left field and pop-up to short.
“We have to capitalize and get guys home,” junior shortstop Cole Tucker said. “We didn’t do a good job of doing that today.”
It appeared the Pride (22-8) would get away with it when the offense was able to plate three runs over the fourth and fifth innings on a two-run single by Ernie de la Trinidad and a sacrifice fly by Jake Alexander.
Tucson (29-4) might not have won for the 13th time in a row if right fielder Jacob Topete didn’t make diving catch just before the warning track with a runner on in the fifth. It epitomized the Badgers’ style of play and showed why they are the most overlooked team in the state.
Tucson is 20-1 against Division I opponents according Romero and the Badgers are definitely playing with an attitude. There were some words exchanged between players on two occasions, but the Badgers backed it up with their style of play.
“We do have a chip on our shoulders,” Romero said. “We read the papers and look at the rankings. We are getting no love whatsoever. No one knows who we are, but, damn, we are 20-1. (We know) some way we are going to make it happen.
“We are little (in stature) but we maximize our ability. We don’t swing for the fences. We put it in play and use our speed. They are sold into it and that is the key.”
The first two batters reached on singles in the sixth against Pride starter Jorge Carrazco before he was relieved by Ryan Sheehan, who allowed two singles with the second one scoring a run.
Brantley Bell came in and retired the first two but Tucson was able to tie on sacrifice flies because a wild pitch moved the runners up. After that the Badgers ripped off three more hits to put the score out of reach.
“I probably shouldn’t have had Georgie (Carrazco) start the sixth but he is a bulldog,” Buck said. “He did his job. They swung the bats great and put it in play.”
The Badgers move on to the championship bracket finals, while Pride drops to the consolation side. Mountain Pointe will face No. 24 Corona del Sol at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal.
“It’s one of things were adversity gives us a chance to do something great,” Buck said. “Now instead of having two more games with this group of kids I have four more. There is no other place I’d rather be.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.